Better Characters through Career Planning

2007 August 31
by Stupid Ranger

After reading Yax’s comments to my previous “Better Characters” post, I realize that while I love planning my characters’ career paths, not everyone thinks that far ahead. So, I’ve simmered down my enthusiasm to share a few quick options for building a better character through career planning.

Option #1: Pick a Feat Ladder

Want to be a spectacular archer? A master of two weapons? A dazzling spell-caster? Take a look at the feats to see if there’s a feat ladder that will help you achieve your goals! By taking a look ahead at where you want your character to be, you can make sure you have the prerequisites you need when you’re ready to take those feats! For instance, if you want to work your way to the Manyshot feat, you’ll need to have at 17 Dex, as well as several feats, starting with Point Blank Shot. By identifying early your desire to take Manyshot, you can start taking the necessary feats and place additional stat points, if needed. Plus, you can use your goal for roleplaying: after setting up camp in the evenings, before your watch, you attempt to shoot two arrows at once… to improve your skills and learn the technique required before you officially gain the feat.

Option #2: Pick a Prestige Class

Another option for career planning is to find a prestige class that really intrigues you. Most prestige classes have prerequisites, and if you don’t plan for them, you’ll find yourself wanting to start the prestige class but missing that one feat or those 2 skill points. There are lots of places to find prestige classes: the DMG has a handful to offer, and most supplements will offer prestige classes that complement the book’s subject. I found a great one recently in Races of the Wild, and I built my fighter to ensure I had all the prereq’s covered.

A little foresight and planning will pay off in terms of achieving your character goals. I enjoy planning these early, as it give me time to roleplay my character’s development, as well as a non-game goal to achieve; it’s a lot of fun to finally attain that really awesome feat or prestige class… just wait ’til you get to use it on the Big Bad!

3 Responses leave one →
  1. Adaen of Bridgewater permalink
    September 5, 2007

    Though I do this myself, I view the need for the whole “career planning” methodology to be one of the biggest short-comings of D&D 3E. It leaves a big gap between character development decisions that one makes for “role-playing reasons” and those made for “character effectiveness”. Making too many purely “role-playing” character development decisions usually results in a pretty crappy character who lags behind characters who are carefully planned out. Call it min-maxing, or whatever, but it is very much encouraged by the design of the core d20 system. I wonder how 4E will work to address this….


  2. Stupid Ranger permalink
    September 6, 2007

    I haven’t been keeping up with the 4E announcements much… I would prefer to be surprised myself.

    In our group, we have had some bad luck with characters developed purely on a roleplaying premise; while fun, they didn’t have the same abilities most characters had of the same level and made things somewhat difficult at time.

    I personally don’t consider career planning to be min-maxing; I strive to develop a balanced character that’s fun to play. And for me, having some goal like a prestige class really helps me stay in character.

  3. sixinchmoth permalink
    September 6, 2007

    Ideally, there ought not to be a conflict betwixt being “real” to the character in the session and having a character with a clear and effective plan. Stupid Ranger (if I may presume to speak for our dear host) and I have at various times in the last couple campaigns played characters whose concept of character (back-story, personality, etc) was so clear there was a real sense of plan with these characters, but also they were (and are) firmly grounded in role playing.

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